The Night of Smooth Saxophone Jazz

purse

The phrases repeat in my head, a very insistent drumbeat aiding an oncoming headache.

“Famous Clare.”

“Damien stopped smoking for you.”

“He’s got it bad.”

“Man, he’s actually smiling and joking.”

“Never seen him like this.”

Damien’s friends speak authoritatively. They laugh. Tease. Act as if they know me. They do know him.

He’s late and they talk freely about him. It’s all good-natured. They like him. They trust him.

I don’t know him.

He said “now.” Was that self-protection? How could I blame him? If he’d uttered “always,” I would have fled. Because I don’t know how I feel. Was it three weeks ago, a month ago, maybe a bit more, that I was seconds from telling Dominic I loved him. Was that a lie?

I sip my beer. I pretend I get an incoming text. I mouth apologies that I don’t think sound too inane, place some bills on the table, although they wave me off, and then I am fleeing from the restaurant.

I push open the door and almost run into Damien.

He grabs my forearm to keep me from tumbling down the steps. He catches a glimpse of my face.

“What’s wrong?”

I shrug. I have no excuse ready. Not for him. “I got a text. I have to run.”

“Clare, tell me what’s wrong.”

I can’t meet his eyes. What if I saw the truth there? What if I saw that he truly cared about me? Wanted a life with me. What then?

Do people fall in and out of love that quickly? Do I fall in and out of love that quickly?

“You’re scaring me a bit,” he says and puts a finger under my chin.

I just can’t meet his eyes.

A couple approaches, but we’re blocking the door. Damien leads me to the side where a bougainvillea’s red blooms hang chaotically.

“I can’t talk right now. I need to think,” I say, still unable to look at him.

“Did someone say something to upset you?”

This time I do look at him. “Have you been telling me the truth?”

He frowns. “About?”

“Us.”

“I think so. Maybe if you told me . . .”

“I loved Dominic.”

“I know that.”

“Do I seem like a tap to you? Like I can just run hot and cold with the twist of a handle?”

“Clare, just a second . . .”

“I’m not. I can’t. I don’t know what you want from me.”

His fingertips caress the side of my face, so gently, so lovingly. “I’m not asking for anything, Clare. I haven’t, have I? All the time in the world is yours.”

I feel a tear slide down my cheek. Why am I so upset? It’s true. He’s never pressured me. Ever.

I look at him. Into those eyes that are so like Dominic’s but not.

“Look, I’ll just tell them I can’t stay for dinner. We’ll go somewhere and talk.”

“No, I don’t want you to miss the evening with your friends.”

“You’re my friend, too, Clare. Even if we never get to another level, I would hope we’ll still be friends. Just wait for a minute, ok?”

I nod and begin swiping at the tears on my face. He pulls a handkerchief from his pocket and hands it to me. I look from it to him. Guys still use these? It’s freshly laundered and smells like dryer sheets. He smiles and kisses me on the corner of my mouth, the way he does. Not quite boyfriend, more than friend.

A woman standing nearby, smoking a cigarette, glances at me. “That guy’s sex on a stick,” she says. She holds up her hands. “No personal knowledge. He just oozes sex appeal. And thank you very much—I don’t want details. I like to keep my fantasies alive and well in my head.”

She drops her cigarette and smashes the butt beneath her red pumps before entering the restaurant.

She’s made me smile. Damien sees my smile and relief relaxes his features.

“Calamity averted?” he asks softly.

“A little better perspective. Maybe the sky isn’t really falling.”

Side-by-side we walk down the street. Couples hold hands and kiss and laugh. A saxophone slurs notes of sexy jazz. Passion’s in the air. A part of me’s jealous, but another part, fragile like a gardenia bud, feels freedom. Damien slides his arm around my waist, a guide, a comfort, exerting no pressure as we engage the night.

end 9/25/2016 (2)

S. Darlington

26 thoughts on “The Night of Smooth Saxophone Jazz

            1. Maybe I’ll do a little guideline but I’ve found in the past that when I’m trying to write a novel under pressure that sometimes I have no idea what I should have happen next. So, it would be fun if someone suggests: alien abduction….or a talking cat or she should totally put a spell on that scum…or something like that. I don’t even mind more detail. I want it to be a fun interactive kind of activity for anyone who wants to be part of it.🙂

              Like

          1. What I love about you, is you are REAL, your not one of these fake types who tickles your ears, what you say carries weight and has meaning, very special indeed. I have to say Ive rally enjoyed your take on the other books youve read and having read some of the same authors, I so far, agree with your take too.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Thank. I am afraid that I feel like I’m being a bit too hard on some of the romance writers who aren’t putting much “story” in their story. I know what it’s like to try to write a full novel and it’s so much more work than people think. But, on the other hand, if you’re earning money for a book, the readers should be getting *their* money’s worth too. Most people don’t have throwaway income and if they’re buying your book, it should be worthy…just out of mutual respect. Tah! Sounds completely idealistic in a capitalist world.🙂

              Like

              1. LMAO but your right. Sometimes people read for escapism, and probably don’t care much, but the better the read, the more likely you’ll have return customers too. Ok, now for me being “brave” would you download my book, and read the first 60 pages and let me know what you think? I will gladly make the entire book available to you if you’d be interested. I’m in the process of re editing it, because it didn’t go to the ebook thingy properly and some of the paragraphing got lost.Actually my son has to do it, since I cant see to do it, lol. Some changes I want to make already in my head, but I’d love a take from someone who cares about what’s out there.

                Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s